Review: Till We Have Faces

Sorry, but this review will be a little different due to the fact that this was a hard book to review. I bought Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis in college after a recommendation from a friend, but it has taken me this long to finally get around to reading it. There were a couple of times that I tried to start, but it’s not the sort of story that grabs you from the beginning. In fact, the whole story is pretty slow-paced, though the book is not all that long. It’s “a myth retold” of Psyche and Cupid, who I knew nothing of going into this. It might have helped to know beforehand, but knowing after did not help me feel an absolute resolution from the end. Nor did it help me fully understand all the things I know C.S. Lewis was probably trying to say and I feel I did not quite understand. This book could be slow, confusing, captivating, clear, mysterious, or thoughtful, and who knows, maybe that’s the point.

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The ending did not feel very resolute for me. At some point, I found myself connecting with the main character, Orual. I wanted the answers to her questions just as she did. Why did the gods demand her sister? Or did they? What happened to her on the evening she last saw her? Why would they make her suffer? The ending that I felt was supposed to reveal all this did not give me all the answers I hoped for. Maybe I missed the point. Or maybe the point was we can’t know all of God’s mysterious ways.

While reading reviews of the book on Goodreads while still trying to process it all, I learned that C.S. Lewis started writing this book when he was an atheist, but at some point stopped, and then picked it up years later when he was a Christian. I didn’t see any clear parallels to Christianity or theology, which again, makes me wonder if I missed something. I saw a couple of theories and ideas in reviews, but I didn’t want to read too many of them because I wanted to figure it out myself. Well, over a week later I haven’t. Maybe years from now, I’ll try re-reading it.

Here’s what I will say. This book is based on a myth, and mythology does not really interest me much. C.S. Lewis was a much smarter man than I am, so I believe there is a message in here I am missing. Though it was slow in parts and not always exciting, there were parts that piqued my interest and kept me turning the page.

I’ve had an extremely hard time deciding on a rating for this, and nothing feels right. 3 stars feels like a slap to Lewis since this was his favorite work, and four stars makes it seem like I was just a little bit more into it than I was. I don’t want to do a half rating, and I can’t for my Goodreads rating, but I’m giving it a 3.5 anyway. I liked it. I almost really liked it. It was just a hard read in the sense that I just don’t completely understand it and that frustrates me.

If you’ve read Till We Have Faces, please let me know your thoughts! And if you haven’t read it but are considering it, I would recommend you check out multiple reviews before deciding if it’s your cup of tea, unless you really love Lewis and just want to read it for that purpose alone. I don’t believe it would be a waste of your time.

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What book was hard for you to process? 

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YA Books That I Think Should NOT be Adapted for Film

It’s a common thing for us to read a wonderful book, take a big sigh, and imagine what it would be like to see the book on the big screen. Then we yell and scream and cry when our favorite books end up on the big screen and they ruin everything! (They cut out my favorite scene! She never did that! Why did they add this scene?! They cut out my favorite line! I never pictured him to look like that!)

Beyond the idea that a filmmaker may or may not handle your favorite book with the care you desire, there is also the simple fact that just because the book is good, it doesn’t mean it would make a good movie. In college, I took an Entertainment Marketing class, and we had a project where we had to read a book that had not been adapted to film yet and then market it like we were going to make it into a film. Since this was a group project, we all had to agree upon a book to read, and we picked The Shack, which was on the tail-end of its popularity then. I found the book to just be so-so, but what was worse was that while reading it, I realized it would be a terrible movie! Needless to say, the project ended up being much less fun since I had no idea how to market it!

Not all books would make good movies. Here’s a few young adult books that I just don’t think should be adapted to film.

The Kill Order

The Kill Order is the prequel to The Maze Runner series, which is in the works for adaptation to the big screen. I already feel sketchy about this, as a lot of weird stuff happens in these books and I’m sure it’s going to be a CGI fest for the movies (not to mention the series ends TERRIBLY), but if they adapt the prequel too that will just be the last straw (the last straw to what exactly I am not sure). There’s so much bad things happening, lulls in action, zombie-like people invading, and just general hopelessness. Really, let’s not adapt The Scorch Trials or The Death Cure either. Sigh.

The Book Thief

Unfortunately, this is happening. I know this might be an unpopular opinion, but I just don’t think it’s right. Now, if you’ve read my posts for the last couple of weeks, you know I recently read this book and really loved it. So this is nothing against the book itself. But the thing is, half of what makes this book as amazing as it is is the prose. And how can that possibly be translated properly onto the screen? I admit, it’ll probably still be good and interesting to see the story of Liesel and her Papa and Rudy and Max and everyone else, but it won’t have the same resonance without the prose and without Death’s narration, especially the end. (P.S. voice over narration is usually annoying, so this would not be the fix either!)

But Liesel is awfully cute here...

But Liesel is awfully cute here…

The Matched Trilogy

If this series were to be adapted… Well, there is simply not enough action in these books to carry a trilogy of films. And while not all movies require action (for example, every Jane Austen adaptation ever), there ought to at least be a plot that continually moves forward and interesting character development. Man, I did not realize how much bitterness I had towards these books until I started blogging… ha ha. I actually enjoyed reading all of them in the moment at least some of the time, but then when it all ultimately ended it just fell flat. And the series would make for flat movies as well.

What do you think? What books (YA or otherwise) do you think would not make good movies? What book to movie adaptations are you looking forward to? (Personally I’m looking forward to Ender’s Game, Catching Fire, and Divergent.)

My Top 10 Books I Have Read So Far This Year

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by The Broke and The Bookish) is the Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2013. Well, I’m an extremely lightweight book blogger, so I have read exactly 10 books so far this year (if you don’t count a couple of really short companion e-books). Though this isn’t much for some, this is actually pretty big for me as it means I am on par with my goal of reading at least 20 books this year (though I would love to pick up the pace and read a few more!), which will put me at reading more books this year than I have in a single year since… before high school. So there you have it.

Since I have read only 10 books this year, I thought I would rank each book from least favorite (which thankfully I still didn’t hate) to most favorite, and why I ranked them accordingly.

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10. Reached by Allie Condie (2 Stars)

This book, as the end of a series, was fairly disappointing. The beginning of the book showed potential, with a plague outbreak caused by the Rising, who we had believed were supposed to be the good guys, but then it went downhill. For starters, since this was the first book of this trilogy I had read since reading The Giver, I suddenly realized that the Society in this series was a little too similar to that of The Giver. Also, I thought most of the characters felt out of place. I don’t want to re-review the book; you can see my thoughts on it by clicking on the the book title.

9. Across the Universe by Beth Revis (3 Stars)

I loved the concept of this one… a girl who is cryogenically frozen wakes too early on a spaceship still years from its destination. The execution of it… was just OK for me. It featured a really creepy mating season among humans on the ship, a lackluster romance, but some interesting twists. I plan to finish the series one day as I’ve heard it gets better, but let’s just say I wasn’t rushing to buy the second book after finishing this one.

8. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis (3 Stars)

The Last Battle turned out to be neither my favorite nor least favorite in The Chronicles of Narnia, with a story that was part boring, part interesting, but wrapped up with a beautiful ending.

7. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis (? Stars) 

I still haven’t figured out how to rate Till We Have Faces, because it left me with more questions than answers. Maybe it’s not a bad thing, as I know C.S. Lewis was much smarter than I am, but it left me feeling a little unsatisfied. Still, there was a certain captivating quality to it. Watch for my review to come soon.

7-10

6. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (4 Stars)

This follow-up for Cinder did not do as much for me as the first book of The Lunar Chronicles, but I still found it enjoyable overall. I do love the characters and world Meyer has created, and I am looking forward to Cress!

5. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (4 Stars)

Reading this book was me dipping my toe into science fiction waters. It’s an interesting story about a bright boy who is sent to train for a war when he is far too young, and the secrets kept from him. I enjoyed it overall, but there were parts that were slow and that did not enjoy as much. By the recommendation of a friend, I do plan to read at least one of the follow-up books, Ender’s Shadow. I’m also looking forward to the movie later this year!

4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer (4 Stars)

I absolutely adored this first book of The Lunar Chronicles, especially the friendship/blooming relationship between Cinder and Kai. Truly the most swoon-worthy romance (even though it was really a pre-romance) I’ve read this year! The only real reason I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5 was because it was just way too predictable. Still, this was a great debut by Meyer!

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3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (5 Stars)

A heartbreaking book filled with beautiful words. I’m not sure what else to say without writing another review.

2. Start by Jon Acuff (5 Stars)

If you’ve been on this blog long enough or read my About Me, you know I have been influenced by author and speaker Jon Acuff, who has this idea that anyone can work towards their dream, but it may not always happen the way you expect it. I can’t really do his words justice, though. But if you’ve had a dream banging around the back of your mind, if you’ve ever wondered what your next step in life should be, if you wake up every morning wishing you could quit your day job, read Quitter and Start. They are five star books for me because if you follow his advice, it’s life-changing. I’m still in the middle of the process of working on my dream, and starting this blog has played a role in that. 

1. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (5 Stars)

Unbroken, the true account of a WWII fighter pilot’s life before, during, and after his incarceration at multiple Japanese POW camps is simply a stunning tale. I don’t read much non-fiction, especially long historical books like this one, but it always kept my interest, and Louie’s story never ceased to amaze me. If you only read one book on this list, it should be this one. I would recommend it to EVERYONE.

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What have been your favorite reads this year so far? 

Double (Review) Feature: I Spy Season 1 and Man of Steel

Today I wanted to share two reviews for two completely unrelated things… the 1960’s show I Spy (season 1) and the new Man of Steel movie.

I Spy, Season One (1965-1966)

ispy1I received Season One of I Spy one birthday or Christmas in conjunction with some Cosby Show DVDs I asked for. After my husband and I finally got through all The Cosby Show DVDs, we decided to try this out. It’s an action show from the 60’s starring Bill Cosby and Robert Culp, who star as American agents Alexander “Scotty” Scott and Kelly Robinson, respectively. Kelly’s cover is a “tennis bum,” essentially a semi-professional tennis player who plays tournaments and gets to hang out with rich people, and Scotty’s cover is his trainer. Kelly is more of a James Bond type, who enjoys a good drink and seems to find a new girl to kiss in every episode, and Scotty is more straight-laced: he doesn’t drink, he rarely gets a girl, and he’s always writing letters to his mom back home.

I have to admit, it took me a little while to warm up to the show. The fact that it’s from the 60’s means it’s not as flashy as modern-day shows, obviously, but it also means that the show is written differently. There is less action and more talking than I anticipated, which would not necessarily bother me, but in one episode there was, what felt like, a ten minute conversation with a drug addict about how she could choose a better life. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz………………

But it got better as the season progressed. I think the biggest shift occurred when the show was moved from Asia to Mexico (more about the locations later), as the stories became more interesting and the two main characters (especially Scotty) developed more. I think the comrade between the two developed as well, and I especially loved how their relationship plays out in the last few minutes of the season finale.

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One thing that I really liked about the show from the start is that every episode is shot on location in a foreign country (except in season 3 apparently there are episodes set in California), and some of the B-roll shots they include I found beautiful and groundbreaking for the time. This season included episodes set in Hong Kong, Japan, one in Vietnam, and Mexico. One other great thing about the show is that there is literally no mention of race relations in it. Here it is, the 1960’s, with a black and a white man working equally as partners, and no one says a words, because there’s no reason to.

After we finished the season, I found I was sad we didn’t have the next two seasons to continue the series, but we plan to get them before too long. I’d give I Spy Season One three out of five stars.

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Favorite episode: “Bet Me a Dollar“: Scotty sportingly bets Kelly a dollar that he is capable of tracking down his friend anywhere in Mexico within a week. But the hide n’ seek game becomes desperately urgent after Scott learns Kelly has unknowingly been infected with anthrax that will kill him if not treated within 24 hours. (Synopsis from IMDB)

Man of Steel (2013)

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As I have mentioned before, Superman does not interest me much, based largely on my experience with the mediocre Superman Returns movie in 2006. But I had to see this movie, as it was produced by Christopher Nolan. And thankfully, the more story that was revealed in the trailers, the more interested I actually became in it. And I have to say, I was pretty surprised by how much I did like it.

I think the number one thing that sold this Superman story for me was the flashbacks to his growing up years. This truly showed Clark’s humanity. You saw him struggling with his abilities growing up, his parents doing their best to guide him. It is after an incident where Clark is able to save a bus full of kids by pushing it out of the water when his father reveals to him where he came from.

Man of Steel

As much as I got out of seeing the struggles Clark faced growing up, I loved seeing how that shaped him as a person, and I also really enjoyed the dynamic between his Earth parents and him. Diane Lane and Kevin Costner did such a fabulous job as Martha and Jonathan Kent, as well as the scriptwriters, in terms of what they did for Clark’s parents. They are loving and supportive in every scene, though their family is not always perfect. Jonathan Kent was portrayed as wise and discerning when it came to how Clark should use or not use his abilities, and  Martha Kent was always supportive and strong. I strive to be a parent like that one day. Hands down, these little snippets of their lives as a family were my favorite.

clark&mom

His Krypton parents, played by Russell Crowe as Jor-El and Ayelet Zurer as Lara (not a very alien name but whateves…) were also loving and strong parents, choosing to send their son Kal-El to Earth that he may do good there, as their planet is dying without hope. We get to see a representation of Jor-El’s consciousness throughout the film and I really liked him. My husband said he feels this is probably his favorite role he has seen Russell Crowe in.

Man_Of_Steel_SupermanTrailerPic03.jpg

I liked other aspects of the story as well. Amy Adams did well as Lois Lane, and Henry Cavill was a perfect fit for this Superman role. Instead of being a boring, vanilla “good guy” like Brandon Routh’s Superman in 2006 (which I blame more on the writing than on his performance), he was an interesting and complex “good guy.” The idea of the villain, General Zod from Krypton, was also fascinating.

But there were some problems with the movie. First off, Clark seems awfully trusting. He has been spending his young adult life roaming, trying to blend in, and one day he finds a Krypton craft, meets Jor-El who tells him he is his father and explains where he came from. I suppose I might believe him too, all things considered, but then it literally takes Clark five seconds to decide to put on the suit Jor-El is giving him and use it to fly around and save people. After he’s been trying to hide his powers. Hmmm… OK. It just felt really rushed.

It also takes him very little time to trust Lois Lane, a nosey reporter, who could have easily done things differently than she did. But luckily for Clark, she decided to keep her story about him more secret than originally intended.

Thankfully, he listens to his dad and does not trust General Zod, though he does willingly surrender to him when asked. Speaking of General Zod…

general-zodI liked the idea of him. On Krypton, he was born specifically for the task of protecting his planet at any cost, and it is with that in mind that he comes after Kal-El, who possess the power to bring back the people of Krypton. I think Michael Shannon did well in his performance, and I did not dislike him as the villain, but it also did not ring 100% true for me, and I am not sure if I can place my finger on why. His motive made complete sense, but… Maybe it did not help that both Jor-El and the Krypton council failed to kill him when they really should have, so the whole idea of him being alive seemed absurd. (Side note: According to a comic I believe, General Zod was banished from his planet well before the planet was dying. This makes sense. In the movie, it’s while the planet is dying. So as soon as the planet dies, which is basically the next day, he’s set free. It’s an amazingly illogical plot hole.)

And the fighting in this movie came down to practically invincible people throwing each other into dozens and dozens of buildings, over and over again. I cringed at the amount of destruction. I mean, yes, it’s obviously going to be a messy affair, but it got to a point of ridiculousness. All I could think of were how many people were dying thanks to all the crashing buildings. Couldn’t Clark try to find a way to move the fight to corn field or outer space?

I did like the ending pretty well, with Clark going to work at The Daily Planet (which was destroyed I’m pretty sure, so somehow they found an identical new office building…). But there was that whole thing of him putting on the glasses and suddenly people who got a good look at him earlier don’t recognize him, except Lois of course and hopefully the boss Perry White (played by Laurence Fishborne), which I thought was a little silly. But the idea was a nice way to cap off the introductory story.

Despite its flaws, that was something to remember while watching the film, that it was an introduction to a character: the way his world works, and the people in it. And honestly, as an introduction super hero movie, this might be among the best, with such a strong characterization of Clark coming to know himself as Kal-El and then transforming to Superman.  It seems that these introductory superhero stories are getting stronger and stronger since Christopher Nolan released Batman Begins. How this franchise will continue, if it continues, remains to be seen, but it was certainly a strong back story and beginning to a character I honestly did not know much about.

clark-capeThe emotions of this film and the feeling of hope certainly ring true. I got misty-eyed a few times in the movie, I came to love Clark’s character and his parents, and I cared about the world he lived in. I wanted to see it all end well. That connection is what Superman Returns lacked. But this Superman feels real, as does his family and his story. With that in mind, I give Man of Steel four out of five stars.

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If you’ve seen I Spy or Man Of Steel, let me know your thoughts!

Other Man of Steel reviews worth checking out:

House of Geekery’s Review

The Viewer’s Commentary’s Review

Matthew Rushing’s Review (Contains Spoilers)

Book Covers and Marketing

As an aspiring writer I have to confess, I can have a half-baked idea stewing in my brain and already have the cover for the story in my mind. This doesn’t always happen, but it does happen. Something I never really considered until reading various blog posts on the subject (unfortunately I didn’t take note of which ones they were so I don’t have links), was how important the book’s cover is for marketing your target audience. I have certainly taken notice of covers I like and covers I don’t, but a lot of the covers I like are girly, and I never considered the obvious: that a guy is most likely not going to want to pick a book that looks like these:

girlycoversAnd even though these

neutralcoversare also dystopias told from a female POV, the covers are a lot more gender neutral. And while I have to admit the first three book covers catch my eye in the bookstore more than the latter three, what matters is the story inside. And if it’s a good story that guys and girls alike would enjoy, I think marketing it as such is important.

I have to admit though, I can’t imagine a better cover for Cinder. And honestly, guys probably don’t want to read Matched or The Selection anyway. And that’s OK, not every book has to be for everyone. But it made me think of think back to one of my girly cover ideas for one of my dystopia stories, and how sometimes I tend to dominate plots with romance (which I have seen bloggers complain about), and what kind of stories I truly want to tell. And I want to tell stories that can resonate with anyone; I don’t want to market to only one sex. But I know that all my stories have quite a lot of reworking and rewriting ahead of them before they see the light of day anyway, so story can be worked on. And a cover is certainly far, far away. Still, it’s important to consider the audience I would want to market to, and it’s fun to think about covers.

I don’t really LOVE the covers for The Hunger Games, Divergent, or The Testing. They’re fine, but as I said before, they don’t make me want to reach for the book off the shelf when I have no knowledge of the story. I tend to prefer people, a la these covers:

dystopiacovers2But as I was considering what actually makes a cover gender neutral I wondered, What kind of books do guys actually gravitate towards?

So I asked my husband if he was browsing in a bookstore for fun, not looking for anything in particular, what kind of cover would catch his eye?

startrekbookHe said something with a cool spaceship on it. I assume this qualifies. So while he might not be repelled against some of these gender-neutral book covers, they probably wouldn’t draw him in. Several of them don’t draw me in either. So I wondered… can pretty dresses and spaceships be combined for maximum draw to a book cover?

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This was the best real-life example I could find; sci-fi look plus romance but not too swoony for  the guys. But let’s face it, no one cover is going to speak to us all. And not all books can put spaceships on their covers. But I do think it’s important to consider the target audience when creating a cover. What can you say about the story with the cover, that you might not even have to read the story to at least somewhat understand? Or at the very least, what emotion can your cover evoke just by its picture and coloring? I think the psychology behind creating a cover for a story can be fascinating!

What do you think? What covers do you gravitate towards? What covers do you feel are properly marketed towards their target audience? 

Muppet Treasure Island

Once again I am participating in Picture Me Reading‘s weekly meme Awesome Adaptations, about films that have been adapted to screen from books. This week’s theme is “An Awesomely Swashbuckling Adventure.”

treasure-islandConfession: I have never read Treasure Island, and I’m sure the differences between it and Muppet Treasure Island are plentiful but, come on, how can you resist a Muppet adaptation of a classic?

Confession #2: I haven’t seen this movie in a pretty long time, like probably a decade or so. But I loved it when I did see it and it has Tim Curry so… hopefully I would still like it?

The story focuses on an orphan boy named Jim Hawkins who has always longed for nautical adventures and finds himself on such, but unfortunately gets caught up with pirates.

tim-curry-pirateIncluding Long John Silver, played by Tim Curry. There’s danger and such, but of course it ends well for Jim Hawkins and the other good guys.

Here’s the one song I do remember from the movie:

Also, while looking for pictures of the movie, I discovered that there was a TV movie of Treasure Island that featured a young Christian Bale! What?! Must see!

cbale-treasure-island

Can you think of another swashbuckling adaptation from book to film? 

Top Ten Books At The Top Of My Summer (and Beyond) TBR List

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (as always, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish), is the Top 10 Books on my Summer TBR list. Well, it’ll take me more than the summer to read 10 books (seeing as I have only read 9.5 books so far this year), but these are the ones I plan to read next. These are in the order that I may or may not read them, since these things always seem to have a way of changing… in fact, the last five have a high likelihood of changing over time, but we shall see… 

1. Under The Never Sky

UNS hi res

My latest e-book library acquisition, to be read as soon as I finish my current read.

2. For Darkness Shows the Stars

3. The Testing

4. The Scorpio Races

5. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

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These four were all recently acquired and are waiting to be read!

6. Redeeming Love

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I’ve been meaning to read this one for a few years, and since I can get it through my library, I have no excuse to wait any longer!

7. 1984

1984

Another one I’ve been meaning to read for years, and we own this one.

8. Between Shades of Gray

betweenshades

Another gut-wrenching WWII book (as I have already read The Book Thief and Unbroken this year), and it’s available through my library as an e-book. Why do I keep reading these sad WWII books? Because I love learning about WWII, and because I think they’re important.

9. The Great Gatsby

10. The 5th Wave

gatsby-5thwave

These two I will need to acquire, which is why they are so far down the list. The Great Gatsby I would like to read before renting the movie later this year, and then I’ve heard good things about The 5th Wave and have been wanting to read more sci-fi, so I want to check it out as well.

And I still want to re-read The Hobbit before the second installment of The Hobbit film trilogy. I hope I can read all these this year, but as I alluded to before, this list can definitely change, so we’ll see.

What’s at the top of your summer TBR list?

Round Up: Writing Tips, Eddie Redmayne, and Child Stars (+ Book Haul)

How to Finish A Book

Author Maureen Johnson (who, I must admit, I have never read any of her books) wrote a good blog post that can be helpful for aspiring authors about how to finish a book. It’s simple advice (basically: just do it!) but can be hard to put into practice. As someone who writes, I relate to the fear of pushing forward in a story. Is it scary to write down the words swirling around in our heads and to share our thoughts, because we know someone will reject them. But we have to keep pressing on. If you’re a writer, definitely check it out! Even published authors struggle with this!

How Do You Write a Good Ending?

Of course, not only do you have to worry about actually finishing your book, but you also want it to be a good ending! Mystic Cooking had author Stephanie Garber (who seems cool!) write a guest post on their blog about this very topic, and also found it interesting and helpful as a writer. Even if you aren’t an aspiring author, you might find it interesting if you have ever lamented about or been amazed by the ending of a story!

Eddie Redmayne to Star as Stephen Hawking

redmayne-hawkingEddie Redmayne, who became widely known for his role as Marius in “Les Miserables,” is to tackle the role of real-life scientist Stephen Hawking in the film “The Theory of Everything.” The film is about his time at Oxford and Cambridge, which includes when he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. I’ll be interested to see this; I think Eddie will do a good job! What do you think?

And just for fun, Stephen Hawking in Star Trek:

Former Child Stars Who Turned Out Just Fine

wonder-yearsI found this photo gallery of child stars who turned out well encouraging and refreshing. We’re always hearing about the latest meltdown of Amanda Bynes or Lindsey Lohan, and it’s good to be reminded some child stars have gone on to have fulfilling lives and careers!  For example, did you know that Shirley Temple grew up to become the U.S. ambassador to Ghana?

I also thought I would share my latest book haul with you all, as I have been anxiously awaiting for my order from Amazon:

IMG_0679As I have lamented before, I finished my e-book library version of The Book Thief before I got my Amazon copy, but I’ll keep it for re-reading later. I won The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight in a giveaway a while back, and though it’s not my typical reading fare, I think it’ll be a nice read when I’m ready for something light. I’m super excited about finally having For Darkness Shows the Stars, and was going to read it after I finish Till We Have Faces, but the Through the Never Sky e-book is finally available for download through my library (I’ve been on a waiting list for at least two months!) so I guess I’ll be reading that next. I’m looking forward to reading The Testing as well, but I was a little bummed to find the cover much less vibrant in real life than what I had seen on the computer screen. Oh, and I bought The Scorpio Races for my Nook after learning about the good deals going on with e-books from B&N and Amazon via The Broke and The Bookish.

neversky-scorpioI’m also hoping to see Man Of Steel this weekend, but it’s possible I might have to wait until next weekend due to various plans. We’ll see.

Anything new you discovered this week?

Review: The Book Thief

bookthiefB

Where do I even begin?

First, I am going to steal like Liesel and post the beginning of Goodreads’ user Tamara‘s review of The Book Thief (Is it stealing if I credit her? I mean, I don’t actually want to steal her words and her be mad at me should she ever see this!): “I give this 5 stars, BUT there is a disclaimer: If you want a fast read, this book is not for you. If you only like happy endings this book is not for you. If you don’t like experimental fiction, this book is not for you. If you love to read and if you love to care about the characters you read about and if you love to eat words like they’re ice cream and if you love to have your heart broken and mended on the same page, this book is for you.”

I have to say, if I had read those words before reading the book, I might have been more hesitant to read it. But the choice to read this was actually a whim, based solely on the fact that I found I could borrow it as an e-book from my library without having to wait, so I thought, Why not?

But… Not a fast read? Maybe I’ll read it later when I have more time. Not a happy ending? I definitely don’t want to check that out. Experimental fiction? Well, I don’t know how I feel about that.

But wow, the words… the way Markus Zusak crafts words in this story is truly magical, and as an aspiring writer, that alone makes this book a worthwhile read. But then there are the people inside, whose story is so simple and tragic and believable and you cannot help but root for them.

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I could quote so much of this book, because the book permeates beautiful imagery that you experience with all five senses, but I will let you discover the words yourself when you read them. What you need to know is that the narrator of the book is Death, and despite what you might think, he’s not all bad. In fact, he’s fascinated by colors in the sky and by the spirit of humans who are living and dying. And he is particularly taken by the story of Liesel, a young girl sent to live with a foster family while living in Nazi Germany.

Her brother has died, she has been separated from her mother, she never knew her father, and she feels all alone in the strangers’ house with an empty bed beside her. But she grows to love her new Papa, she makes a best friend named Rudy that the people in town find strange, and she makes it her personal mission to learn to read the book that she stole at her brother’s grave site.

I won’t delve any further into the story, except to say that books, reading, and words all play an important part in Liesel’s life throughout the story. This is what carries her through hard times and what bonds her with certain people. I love when a book focuses so much on words.

I will say, however, that The Book Thief is not a perfect book. I actually found the pacing slow at first, because the story is so simple (and the first chapter or two is confusing I think because of Death’s narrative), but the more you read, the more you care about the people. Also, about halfway through the book Death gives you a major spoiler alert for the end. I guess in a way this was good, to soften the blow as he even says (plus he hates suspense!), and it made it less hard later. Yet, it also made it maybe a little less emotional as well. But don’t get me wrong, I still cried at the end.

And then there’s the language. There’s a lot of it, a lot more than I prefer. I considered knocking off a star for it, but it felt wrong to give this book the same number of stars as other books I did not feel nearly as inspired by, so I give it five stars with that caution of language. There were not any f-bombs, but there was a large amount of “moderate” language.

This book is very stylistic. If you can’t get on board with what the author is doing, you won’t like it. But I hope you give it a chance if you haven’t yet. And while the book is incredibly sad, there is some hope in the epilogue (without it, this may have been a four star review instead). Though it’s small and I wish there was more, it was poignant and was probably just the right amount for proper closure.

Stephen King once said: “There are books full of great writing that don’t have very good stories. Read sometimes for the story… don’t be like the book-snobs who won’t do that. Read sometimes for the words–the language. Don’t be like the play-it-safers who won’t do that. But when you find a book that has both a good story and good words, treasure that book.” I believe this book is both good story and good words, a book to treasure.

5stars

Content Advisory

Language: A large amount of moderate language, as mentioned above. You can also read more about it at Rated Reads.

Sexual: None, except a mention of imagining someone naked, but there is no description.

Violence: Mild/moderate. There is death in this book, but it’s not described in too much detail. There is also some other violent incidents, some which are mentioned with some detail, but nothing too graphic.

I know this is a favorite for many. If you’ve read The Book Thief, what were your thoughts?

The Prestige: A Magical Adaptation

Once again I am participating in Picture Me Reading‘s weekly meme Awesome Adaptations, about films that have been adapted to screen from books. This week’s theme is “An Awesomely Magical Adaptation.”

I have not kept it a secret that I really love what Christopher Nolan does as a writer and a filmmaker. In 2006 he released a movie of intrigue based on a novel by the same name, The Prestige, about two feuding magicians.

prestigeI have listened to about half of The Prestige audio book, so I can only compare the two stories so much. The book starts in modern-day, with a young man, Andrew Westley, who we come to find out is Alfred Borden’s great grandson. Since he has been adopted, he learns of this connection only recently at the time the book begins. He is a journalist for a local paper who travels to a place for a story, only to find out that he has been summoned by Kate Angier, the great-granddaughter of Rupert Angier (who is named Robert in the film), who has some questions for Andrew that she believes will explain a mystery surrounding their magician predecessors and from their own childhood. Later, we get Alfred Borden’s account of his story in his own words. Then we get the perspective of Kate, and then we get Rupert Angier’s account in his own words (what happens beyond this point I’m not sure).

“Are you watching closely?”

The accounts of Bolden and Angier share similarities and dissimilarities between the story of the two magicians in the film. In the film, the two appear to be friends and colleagues at first, who then become scorned with one another after a  terrible accident. In the book, an accident does turn the two against each other, though they are hardly acquainted beforehand, and Bolden is not even aware of what the consequences of his actions have borne for Angier. The focus for the magicians in both the book and the movie, however, is on each magician wanting to create the best version of The New Transported Man illusion, where the magician himself appears to be transported in less than a second.

prestige-onstageNolan, however, clearly added some elements for dramatic purposes. (Warning, movie spoilers ahead) Unless these things come up later in the book, it appears that Borden was never on trial, that his wife Rebecca never hung herself, and that Angier’s wife did not drown on stage. Borden and Angier also do not exchange many words during the book, and they especially don’t appear to write secret coded journals specifically for the other magician to find. Nolan also eliminated the modern-day story line that is in the book, which I have found myself engrossed in since I am not sure what will happen there, but I can understand how it needed to be cut for a feature length film.

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What I find most fascinating about the film Nolan created is that the viewer doesn’t even know who they are really supposed to root for. Most people I saw the movie with did seem to sympathize with Angier more, whereas I had sided with Borden; but regardless, who the true protagonist is and who the true antagonist is is left quite gray. In the book, when you read (or in my case, hear) Borden’s account, he’s easy to side with. He admits he started a skirmish with Angier, but sought to make amends and did not want it to continue, whereas Angier seemed to further provoke it. Then when you hear Angier’s side, you understand better why he did what he did. Again, it’s quite gray, and even generations later, you see that the families have still not forgiven each other entirely.

(L-R)  Hugh Jackman, Andy SerkisThere’s no real magic in The Prestige, but there is a lot of science, wonder, and creativity crafting the great illusions the magicians perform. And sadly, their stage lives also often overshadow, rule, and consume their real lives. For a great story about the mystery of stage magic as well as the intrigue of the human condition, I would definitely recommend the film The Prestige, and based on what I have experienced with the book so far, I would recommend it as well.

Have you seen the film or read the book? What are your thoughts?